For some persons, having a physical disability also means battling a mindset of disability which, in many cases, can act as an obstacle to the fulfillment of their dreams.
That’s not the case, however, with Jalisa Robinson, a confident 26 year old graduate of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill, who holds an upper second class honours degree in social work.
“I was never treated differently as a child by my parents. Therefore, I never felt disabled. I knew I was different but I never felt disabled,” she told Barbados TODAY in an interview to coincide with International Women’s Day.
Jalisa has a condition known as arthrogryposis multiplex congentia or AMC which prevents her from bending her arms and legs. However, it does not stop her from volunteering every week at the National Council for the Disabled.
According to her, there are good reasons why young people should consider devoting some of their time to volunteering.
“I believe that if one can afford it, they should become a volunteer as it is a great experience, especially if the person is a recent graduate from the University of the West Indies as it helps to build their character,” she said.
While at Cave Hill, Jalisa, who also enjoys singing, played an active role in the Music Society as Marketing Officer.
With her confident attitude, she tries as much as possible to lead a normal life but acknowledges there are challenges when it comes to transportation and easy access to buildings.
In both instances, she believes Government can do more to help members of the disabled community to become more independent in getting around.
Jalisa is grateful to members of her family for raising her to believe that she was otherwise a normal child and could be anything she aspired to be. This belief led to her enrollment in the UWI’s social work programme because she believes that she can make a difference.
So far, she has been doing just that through her implementation of Bizkids, an entrepreneurial camp that was started at the Lester Vaughn School in 2016. The reason she started the programme was to, as she put it, “allow children to realize that they are not only learning to work at someone’s establishment but that the knowledge they receive at school, they can implement into their own businesses.”
The programme does not entirely focus on entrepreneurship as it also allows students to acquire skills in team building, public speaking, gaining confidence as well as being able to think empirically. Jalisa’s goal for Bizkids is to have a bigger camp this year and invite more secondary schools to come on board.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, she explained what the theme Be Bold means to her.
“In my opinion, being bold means to be comfortable with who you are as an individual, being assertive and confident.”
Jalisa offered some parting words of advice for young females drawing from her own experience. “The only disability one can have is a bad attitude,” she said.